CONVERSATION WITH RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN
The Charlie Rose Show
April 28, 2014 Monday
SHOW: THE CHARLIE ROSE SHOW 11:00 PM EST
HOST: Charlie Rose
GUESTS: Recep Tayyip Erdogan
HIGHLIGHT: Turkey is an important country by any measure, it is a
democracy in a troubled region, however, in the eyes of its critics,
it is becoming authoritarian and less tolerant; the country is both
modern and old, it is Islamic and secular, it has a GDP growth of
ANNOUNCER: From our studios in New York City, this is CHARLIE ROSE.
CHARLIE ROSE, PBS NEWS HOST: Turkey is an important country by any
measure. It is a democracy in a troubled region. However, in the eyes
of its critics, it is becoming authoritarian and less tolerant. The
country is both modern and old, it is Islamic and secular, it has a
GDP growth of four percent.
And look at its geography, it is European and Asian sitting between
the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Turkey is bordered by eight
countries Bulgaria, Greece, Georgian, Armenia, Azerbaijan Iran,
Iraq and Syria. The Syrian refugee crisis has cost Turkey billions
of dollars as many have fled across the border.
The Turkish Republic was founded after the end of the Ottoman Empire
in 1923. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who was the first president and led
the country from 1923 to 1938 is the country`s most revered historic
figure. Many credit him with creating Turkey as a modern and secular
I went to Istanbul for a rare interview with Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He
has been Prime Minister since 2002. His party has just been very
successful in local elections. He must soon decide if he will run
for president under a new constitution. He was considered a man who
could be a bridge between the West and the Islamic world, he`s been
unsuccessful in gaining admission to the European Union. Many fear
he will look eastward for political alliances.
Erdogan today is a source of some controversy. The Prime Minister is
accused of coming down hard on anyone who opposes him. Prosecutors
investigation corruption has been reassigned, Twitter and YouTube
have been banned and demonstrators been violently dispersed.
Some fear that in the process he is creating a more polarized Turkey
with deep divisions. His most intense conflict is with a man named
Fethullah Gulen who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. He
is a preacher and founder of the Gulen movement with followers across
Former friends, they once supported each other and then in the Gulen
Movement served in the Turkish government in the police and judiciary
especially. The two men are now bitter enemies and the Prime Minister
has promised to go after Gulen and see Gulen`s extradition from the
United States to Turkey.
The Prime Minister made international news last week when he
acknowledged the suffering of Armenians in the 1915 massacres, he
stopped short of calling it genocide something Armenians have long
demanded yet it went further than any Turkish lead ahead before and
was praised for taking that step.
I talked with Prime Minister Erdogan at his office in Istanbul on
Friday night of last week.
CHARLIE ROSE: Mr. Prime Minister thank you for taking time out of
a very busy day to see me. I`m back one of my favorite cities in
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRIME MINISTER OR TURKEY (through translator):
I thank you very much. I`m glad to meet you in Istanbul. I`m very
pleased that we`re able to meet here.
CHARLIE ROSE: Much has happened since I saw you last. Local elections,
your party did well. What`s the significance of that for you?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, it shows confidence. It`s a vote of
CHARLIE ROSE: The next election is for president. Will you be running
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: We will have the governing body of the political
party. We will convene next week and we will consult and by mid May
we will probably announce our decision.
CHARLIE ROSE: This has been an important week because of the statement
that you made on Armenia.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, this is something that I have been saying
for a long time and every time I said this, I said that it was the
Ottoman citizens, there were Armenians and others — people belonging
to other ethnicities who died in the event. And I always said that
it is very natural and the right of all ethnicities to remember their
suffering and we have to respect that.
And they are — they were citizens of the Ottoman Empire who are our
ancestors, and what happened to those people and it`s remembrance
is something that we have to respect. We have in our territory many
Armenian citizens. Some who have passports, some who don`t, there
are some who live here without passports, but we do not send those
people away. They continue — those Armenians continue to live in our
country. And we also respect the rights, belief, freedom of both of
Armenians of others we will continue to protect those rights.
CHARLIE ROSE: They obviously like to use the word “genocide”. It`s
impossible for the Prime Minister of Turkey to characterize it as
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: This is not possible because if such a genocide
had been the case, would there have been Armenians living in this
country? We have today citizens who have passports, also Armenians who
are here in our country who have left Armenia. We don`t exclude them.
We don`t send them back. They make a living in our country and they
continue to live in our country.
We are a people who think genocide as a crime against humanity and we
would never turn a blind eye to such action. And we always say that
this is a responsibility for the historians. Our archives are open
and historians can come and look at the archives. We have military
archives of the world and If Armenia has archives, they can open
theirs, or third countries if they have documents they too could
make them available and we can establish a commission made up of
historians, and legal experts and political scientists who can then
look at those documents and they can then come up with a report and
we can all respect those reports.
The diasporas is exploiting the situation and I don`t think that we
should accept that. There`s no reason why we should have any sort
of doubt or suspicion when we view Armenian citizens and that should
not be the case and no one has the right to say that.
CHARLIE ROSE: But you are saying you have to recognize their suffering
and is there an apology there?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: This is our ancestors, this is not something
that happened during the Republic of Turkey. This was during the
Ottoman Empire and these are events that happened during migration
and the documents have — are very interesting. And if the documents
show that our ancestors made the mistake and if the historians can
show this, then we will not refrain from making an apology and we
bear whatever the consequence of that is.
CHARLIE ROSE: Let me turn you to other places that there may be news
coming. One is Israel, because of President Obama and Prime Minister
Netanyahu — there was an apology to you on the telephone. There
have been negotiations about compensation and other things. Where
does that stand and what is necessary to see the relationship and
exchange of ambassadors?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: First of all, I thank you for this question. I
would like to thank President Obama, my friend, for his efforts
in this respect because that was a step that was possible through
his efforts. The apology on the phone by Prime Minister Netanyahu
was a result of President Obama`s efforts. And there is an issue of
compensation here and we have come to an agreement — we might call
this an agreement now — we have come to an agreement with respect
to compensation. And with respect to sending humanitarian aid to
other people and Palestine through Turkey is the other step of the
negotiation and where the completion of that phase we can move towards
a process of normalization.
And I have already spoken with my colleagues at the foreign ministry
and I think we`re thinking about days and weeks in with respect. And
I just hope that there won`t be another black cat which would change
CHARLIE ROSE: But in a matter of weeks there may be full recognition
between Turkey and Israel.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: A normalization process it may begin and the
first step of that process would no doubt be taken by the sending
CHARLIE ROSE: Then there`s the question of the Kurds. You have begun
a process. Where is the process and are you optimistic?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: This process is a peace process for a solution
of this issue and the government has taken a very firm step in this
respect. But despite all these steps, the separatist organization,
in this election, too, has created some problems especially in that
region, but I can say that we are at quite a good stage despite
some of the difficulties. We have been throughout the process of the
And we look to the principals of democracy. And we are not talking
about an organization with arms with threats. What we are looking
forward to is the process of discussion, consultation, discussion of
project ideas. What we would like to see is to have this process of
discussion and conversation, in the process in the election as well,
that is the Democratic process.
CHARLIE ROSE: Now to the matter of Mr. Gulen, who lived in Pennsylvania
in my country. What happened between you and him?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: After I became Prime Minister, I had not had
any meetings with him other than a few phone conversations. I used
to have meetings with him when I was mayor of Istanbul. And during
my tenure as Prime Minister, we had good relations with this group
for the first two terms.
But the real problem began after 2011, after the referendum for the
amendment to the Constitution. There — there was an effort to take
away some power and this effort involved the police security forces
and the judiciary. My observation now in hindsight is that though the
effort then was to consolidate this power with the security forces
and the judiciary.
And the first step that they took was against the Undersecretary of
the national intelligence agency about the meetings that were going
also. These were steps taken against the Undersecretary, the Deputy
Undersecretary of the National Intelligence Agency, and they were
unacceptable to me because the Oslo talks were talks expecting some
good intentions and the national intelligence agency of any country
can take necessary steps if, in the end, they result in peace and
they have taken some steps. But in that process, there has been lies
slander and because of those lies and slander, we had to intervene
in the process and we are where we are, unfortunately.
CHARLIE ROSE: I`ll come back to that. But did you just wake up one
day and find out they had infiltrated your government so much so that
you called it a parallel government?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: We were aware that they were trying to infiltrate
various organizations but we were not aware of their ultimate bad
intentions and we felt — we realized this. After a while we started —
CHARLIE ROSE: But when did you realize it? When did you know that
this was a struggle for power?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: When they moved against the Undersecretary of
the National Intelligence Agency. That was the first concrete step,
because there were — there was going to be another process that
would follow that first step. December 17th, December 25th, these
are the final steps which became almost a coup.
CHARLIE ROSE: Almost a coup?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Yes, it was a coup. It was a civilian coup. This
is what they were doing. If I had remained silent upon returning
from my trip, things would have gone a different way, but I was not
silent and when I came back from a trip abroad, there were hundreds
of thousands of people at the airport who met me and that showed
specific a specific stance. Then hundreds of thousands of people,
millions of people showed their support and that changed things around.
And the people have really stood firmly with us and we saw this on
the 30th of March with 45.45 percent vote.
CHARLIE ROSE: It is my impression that not only were they infiltrating
the judiciary, the police, but you began to fear that they were
infiltrating, wanting to control the intelligence operation of the
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, there is an intelligence operation in the
security the police forces and then there is the national intelligence
and we`re trying to —
CHARLIE ROSE: National intelligence is what I mean.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: The national intelligence is part of the police.
We do international intelligence through our international intelligence
CHARLIE ROSE: Right.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: And they were trying to infiltrate those agencies
but we have been trying now do a significant cleanup operation.
CHARLIE ROSE: What does that mean?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: To give you an example, they placed a bug in
my office, in two of my offices. And the moment we realized this —
administrative action has been taken. And in the same way wiretapping
of phones of the people at the highest levels of the government
are listening to the conversations — their conversations in their
rooms or keeping the leader of the opposition under surveillance
or members of parliament under surveillance, going so much forward
that they went into the private lives of people. They also listened
to encrypted phones and most recently, they listened to meetings at
the ministry of foreign affairs. One cannot speak of the patriotism
of people who are involved in such action.
No group can ask for special privileges for themselves. They came to
a point where they were looking for special privileges for themselves
and we could not have done that and we are taking therefore determined
steps to resolve this issue.
But I have another expectation and that is the fact that this group is
in the U.S., and it`s sad for us to see that such a group can exist
in the U.S., because these elements which threaten national security
of Turkey cannot be accepted to exist in other countries because what
they do here to us they might do to — against their hosts. No one
can guarantee that they won`t do that.
CHARLIE ROSE: So —
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: So I see them like an organization.
CHARLIE ROSE: Yes.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: And in fighting against this organization we
have expectations from our model partner the U.S.
CHARLIE ROSE: What do you expect? What would you like for the
U.S. to do?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: They can be — they can be delivered or they
can be expelled. It`s as simple as that. If for example, someone is
a threat to the United States and we get that information and if we
catch them, we deliver those but we hand them over. I have done more
than ten handovers like this so far and I would expect the same thing
from our strategic partner the United States because these have been
attempts to threaten our national security.
CHARLIE ROSE: But you know —
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: They hand over to us so we can do what`s
CHARLIE ROSE: Do you expect that you have to do that, to turn over
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: I hope so. Well, at least maybe they can
CHARLIE ROSE: OK.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Because this is someone who does not have a
passport. We canceled his passport and he left this country on an
illegal passport. But this person now can live in the U.S. on a
CHARLIE ROSE: You know what your critics say. They say that you
only began to speak out against Gulen when their friends in the
judiciary and the prosecutorial element began to press corruption
charges against your friend, that is when you turned against them,
only because of the corruption charges that they were pursuing did
you finally turn on them.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: These characterizations of slander began on
December 17th, and there were things before that, actually. It did
not start on the 17th of December. So when we look at what is going
on, it is already clear now that there is significant corruption in
many of the organizations that they`re involved with and we will be
seeing unearthing these issues. When you have a firm position in the
police and in the judiciary then there would be no one who would make
claims against you. That is not a fair and just approach and they,
too, will now see what justice means and they have already started
leaving Turkey because they know what`s going to happen to them.
CHARLIE ROSE: What`s going to happen to them?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, their crimes are numerous and when there
are so many crimes and they know that they committed the crimes they
are leaving Turkey.
CHARLIE ROSE: So you`re on a campaign not only to root them out but
to prosecute them but and find them wherever they are. And these
were people though that were part of the judiciary and the police who
brought corruption charges. Do you believe, because of the wiretaps,
they were deliberately trying to do what? To find evidence against
you that they could target you with corruption?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Mr. Rose, technology is so advanced that you
can listen to people`s conversations and then you can play and edit
a few sentences and the same thing is unfortunately happening in our
country, has happened in our country. So the words you read out of
my speech are correct. We will continue to follow this up and those
who threaten our national security will be subject to the legal —
due legal process.
CHARLIE ROSE: And what happens to the charges against you if those
people being rooted out of the government?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: I am very confident in this. When we came to
government, Turkey had the GDP of $230 billion and our government
brought this up to $820 billion. In 12 years, we went from $230 billion
to $820 billion. How could corruption be the basis of such development?
When we came to government, there — there were a total of 6,100
kilometers of divided roads in the 79 years of the republic, whereas
in 12 years we built 17,000 kilometers of divided roads. You cannot
do this in a country where there`s rampant corruption. We are building
the third Bosporus Bridge over the Bosporus.
CHARLIE ROSE: Right, right.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well Marmaris (ph) under the Bosporus. We are
building a second tube crossing under the water under the Bosporus
and they will be opened in this coming year. You can`t — how can
you do all of this in a country with corruption. We are building a
fast train, how could you do all of this in a country with corruption?
When I came to government — when we came to government there were
26 airports. There are 62 airports in Turkey now. There is hardly
any location in Turkey which is not accessible by air. How could a
country full of corruption achieve such development? Our public debt
the GDP was 73 percent when we came to government, right now the debt
to GDP ratio is 35 percent. So you can see how the improvement has
grown. The borrowing interest rate was 63 percent now we have single
digit interest rate on our borrowing.
In Europe, Germany has a growth rate of 0.8 percent, Turkey has a
growth rate of four percent. So a country with corruption how can a
country with corruption achieve all this? I think this is all very
clear for all to see. And it is because people appreciate that they
have voted 45.5 percent in favor of this government. Otherwise,
the people — why would they keep a corrupt government in place?
CHARLIE ROSE: I want to come to the economy in a moment. But let`s
stay with this for a second. They also raised the question — the
question was raised that you look back at the same people who were
there prosecuting the military and you seem to agree with it at the
time. But then when they came after you, you looked back at what they
did to the military and said maybe that was not good.
Have you changed your mind about the legitimacy of the prosecution
against the military?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Let me tell you one thing. We are always against
wrongdoing. When the Chief of General Staff was arrested, I made
some statements then. If you go back and look at those statements,
you will see that I have said that I did not think it`s right for him
to be kept in custody in (INAUDIBLE) and be prosecuted in this way
and I also said at the time that it was not these courts but that
he should have been subject to the judgment of the higher judicial
bodies and the constitutional courts, not the courts where he was
tried. This is what I said at the time and this is what I still say.
Of course, if there is a mistake, if there is evidence to support
any wrongdoing, then the judiciary will make the right decision. The
judiciary is not attached to the Prime Ministry.
CHARLIE ROSE: But because it is the people that you were rooting out
of the government who were doing the prosecuting, are you now saying
maybe we should go back and look at that prosecution and see if it
was wrong? Because once they turned on you, you began to look at them
and some of them, as you said, you have fired them or reassigned them.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: I think these are all characterizations. This
is not true. It was not the decisions of the people involved on the
17th of December and the 25th of December who made the decisions for
CHARLIE ROSE: Right, right.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: They were different judges and public prosecutors
so they were not one and the same. And there is also the court of
causation (ph) aspect, and this was a privilege we provided to the
constitutional court and the constitutional court when these people
exercised that right, made a decision, and this led to this process of
retrying these people. They are not acquitted. They will be tried,
but they will be tried without being detained. This is what the
process is about. And it has nothing to do with the judges and the
public prosecutors as such.
CHARLIE ROSE: Many people in Turkey have — and obviously, you have
high ratings and you just had a victory at the polls — when you
came to power were enthusiastic the liberal elements of the society,
conservative elements of society, people of all religious faiths had
great confidence. Turkey`s economic growth rate was up to seven —
to six percent and seven percent.
Some, now, look at some of the things and say they fear a descent
into authoritarianism. They talk about respect for the rule of law,
you know. They talk about shutting down Twitter and shutting down
protests with the result of the loss of life and they worry. And they
express this idea that Turkey is becoming too authoritarian because
you`re too skillful as a politician.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Mr. Rose, do you believe in me?
CHARLIE ROSE: I`m repeating what I hear and what I read from people
in Turkey. So I`m asking you because you get a media opportunity to
have a dialogue about it.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, let me tell you the following. In a local
election, if people vote 45.5 percent in favor of a person and you
think him a dictator, you have to really analyze the situation because
the others in the political scene, 28 percent and less, because the
dictator they`re talking about is a dictator, so-called, who can be
subject to any sort of insult from the media, from the leaders of the
opposition, and people can clearly and easily insult a person. If I
were a dictator, how could anyone direct such an insult to me?
In our country in this last election, there were in political parties
which were voted for, and they were all part of the ballot box,
and the elections were completed without any problem.
I will add another thing. You talk about Twitter. This Twitter does
not have an office in Turkey. It`s an American company and they are
(INAUDIBLE) in Turkey, they are part of the informal economy, as such
therefore. There are court decisions for example, those decisions are
provided to them and they include, for example, insults to the prime
minister or ministers, and we go to court, courts render decisions,
but Twitter does not suspend those accounts.
And on the other hand, the constitutional court disregards the legal
system acts against the country constitution because Article 148 of
the constitution is very clear. It says that all the domestic legal
remedies have to be exhausted before a decision can be rendered. But
the constitutional court does not take that into consideration and
acts a court of first instance and renders a decision.
So from a procedural point of view, the constitutional court is
committing a significant crime, but because there is no other body
above the constitutional court, what the constitutional court says has
to be accepted and respected. But the law talks about direct individual
positions. So if a person, an individual petitions the court then a
decision would be rendered on that position. But this should not be
an all encompassing decision. This has been clear in the constitution.
This has been disregarded by the constitutional court. We talked about
all this during a meeting as well. I say that whatever instrumentation
is in the U.S. or in France or in the U.K. should be the case here
in Turkey. The Internet officials came and — the Twitter officials
came and they were asked why they did not open an office because if
they open an office then they can register here, they can pay their
taxes and if they operate within the legal system, there`s nothing
that the AL Party government would do against them.
We`re placing Smart boards in schools and we are distributing iPads
to students — children. This is the kind of government that we
are. A government like this — why would we be against communication
CHARLIE ROSE: Is there anything happening on Twitter or YouTube that
you would be afraid of?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Twitter has to respect everybody`s freedoms.
Second, they have to establish an office in my country. Does Twitter
pay taxes in the U.S.? I`m asking, do they?
CHARLIE ROSE: Yes.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, they have to pay taxes in my country, too.
They don`t pay taxes in my country and they insult the court decisions,
they all should be taken into consideration.
CHARLIE ROSE: OK.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: The court decisions have to be respected. If
they don`t implement the court decisions, then what we do is we shut
them down. They come, they open their office, they pay their taxes
and then we tell them to go ahead.
CHARLIE ROSE: No problem. So all this talk about shutting down Twitter
is only about paying taxes? Only about paying taxes?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Not just paying taxes. It`s also about respecting
court decisions. For example, there`s an insult to me, I go to court
and the court decides that that account should be suspended.
The court decides that but Twitter doesn`t do it or there are insults
to ministers. They go to court, they win the case, and the account
has to be suspended but it`s not. These are the reason why those
steps have been taken.
So Twitter has to respect the decisions of the local court. This was
not what they did. That was the problem. And they did accept it when
this was told them. There are also other pornographic things. These
are all forbidden. They should not be there.
CHARLIE ROSE: Of course. So even though you and the constitutional
court had a difference of opinion, you don`t regret what you did?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: We do implement the decisions of the
constitutional court but we also criticize it if necessary. It`s one
thing to implement a decision. It`s another thing to respect that
decision. I think we have to make a distinction there.
CHARLIE ROSE: Do you believe the constitutional court is trying to
get into politics?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, there are such decisions, or if you look
at the statement today —
CHARLIE ROSE: Yes, specifically today. They`re not talking only
about legal issues. It is also political. We want the judges,
the judiciary to talk through their decisions. We do not accept in
getting in any way in freedom of expressions but today the president
of the constitutional court made the speech. The president was there,
the speaker of the parliament was there, the prime minister was there,
the deputy prime minister was there and it was as if he was lecturing
them and he does not have that right.
He should talk about his area with his colleagues. We`re talking about
separation of powers. The judiciary, the legislative and the executive
branches are in three separate places, and they should respect each
other. If that respect does not exist, then there will be chaos in
And I was very sad to hear the statement today.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: I could have chosen not to go there today. But
I went there out of respect, and that`s why I went there today. But
to see or face such a speech there was very sad for myself, for my
party, for my people.
CHARLIE ROSE: And your —
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: I think the chairman of the — or the president
of the constitutional court will always be remembered with these
statements and it will always be something that he will have to face
from now on.
CHARLIE ROSE: Let me talk about the demonstrations and what might
happen again with respect to demonstrations. When you look at that and
the death of seven people, what regrets do you have and what will it
be as a guide for you if there are demonstrations in the square again?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Well, I`ll tell you other things when you ask
me these questions. You have demonstrations in all countries, and
people die in those demonstrations. Aren`t there deaths in the U.S. in
demonstrations or in Germany? Or in the U.K., in Madrid, in Ukraine?
CHARLIE ROSE: Because of the factions.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: It happens everywhere. Unfortunately, — I say
unfortunately because this is not something that we would like to
see but they happen. If you resort to violence, then such unwanted
consequences occur. Who is it that resorts to violence? It`s not the
police. Those who resort to violence are, unfortunately, the people
who are in the square who believe in the games that the illegal
organizations play. And when they attack the police using stones —
throwing stones or using Molotov cocktails, then the police react
These people, as you may have noticed, are not people who died as a
result of use of weapons because the police — our police would not
use weapons. It would be a last resort. They would be patient. They
might use water cannons, for example, or other ways, or tear gas.
Our police do not use weapons to kill people. We have to be very
sensitive to these issues. We never said no to protests. People
protest, they can meet but we don`t agree on vandalism, we don`t
agree on fascist (INAUDIBLE). We don`t agree with demonstrations
which resemble terrorist actions.
So what we do is we show some areas, places for demonstration, we
provide those facilities, but people say they want to demonstrate
anywhere they like, but this is not possible. It would not be in line
with the law.
CHARLIE ROSE: So there will not be a demonstration in the same spot?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: No, no. They can demonstrate. I also can
demonstrate and have such freedoms, but I go to what is designated or
the place that is designated. We brought together 2.5 million together
in Istanbul for a meeting. And it happened — they came together and
they left in a natural period of time nothing happened — not even
So people who want to demonstrate can go to those places and have
their demonstrations, but places which are places for people to walk
around leisurely or for commercial activity, these should not be the
places for demonstrations because, if they are, you unfortunately
end up having incidents that lead to people having their nosebleeds.
CHARLIE ROSE: Do you believe it was a foreign conspiracy?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: There`s always foreign provocation in such
events. For example, look at the events in Egypt or the events here
or the events in the Ukraine. There are a number of similarities. And
it`s obvious that they`re managed from certain centers and we have
documents to show this.
These are the same events. The scenario, in other words, is the same.
And when we see these scenarios, it gives the impression that the
button is pushed in some place and I believe that the intention is
to create chaos in some countries. It`s sad to say it, but that`s
what I think it is.
CHARLIE ROSE: Do you include the United States in that?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Some groups in the U.S. may be part of this,
or in the West. In other words, we have never claimed that the U.S.
Administration has been a part of this. This has never been something
that we said. But there may be some groups which may provoke.
CHARLIE ROSE: From the United States. OK.
Let me turn to foreign policy. Define the relationship that you would
like to have with the European Union. And I say that because there
are some who looked on you as a person who, if Turkey became part of
the E.U., could be a bridge to the Muslim world.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: To me, this would be the most natural course.
This is what the West expected and it was also what the Islamic world
expected. But we have seen the degree of sincerity in the West with
respect to this idea in the last 50 years. They were not sincere. And
I mean the European Union here.
The Islamic world believes also that Turkey should be a bridge between
the West and the Islamic world and we still continue to think so. But
the European Union is still not aware of this development, and we
find it very difficult to explain to them or get them to understand it.
Because Turkey is a country where Islam and secularism coexist, and
Turkey would play a very important role in terms of the developments
that could take place in the Islamic world.
We believe our Western friends, the European Union, have to be
sincere in the way they approach Turkey. We are still trying to open
more chapters. When we came to government, there were 15 chapters for
negotiations with the European Union, and then there were 15 members of
the E.U., they have 27 members now. The number of countries increased
in E.U., but Turkey has been kept waiting at the door for the last
And this is not just about me as a person. It`s not just my concern
as Tayyip Erdogan with respect to our confidence in the E.U. It`s the
people`s concern with respect to the E.U. because we believed they
would accept Turkey as a member but now people don`t believe that E.U.
will take Turkey in as a member.
CHARLIE ROSE: Will you continue to push for it?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: There are a number of developments in the world
and those may have a bearing on what we decide to do with respect to
CHARLIE ROSE: And they are what — what things in the world might
have a bearing?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: If these delay tactics continue to be the case,
as far as E.U., then we might have to look for other formations. There
are a number of different organizations, and we may consider them.
CHARLIE ROSE: Let me talk about Syria, because you have a border with
Syria, you have refugees, and that`s an issue for you.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: There is no place we can talk about this. We
talk about them at the U.N., but at the U.N. steps, unfortunately,
that should have been taken have not been taken.
CHARLIE ROSE: Because Russia has a veto. Yes?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Yes. So far, we have more than 700,000 refugees
in our country. About 200,000 of them live in tents and container
cities; 500,000 of them live in the cities and we have so far spent
$3.5 billion for them. The support we have received from other
countries for this effort is $150 million, out of which $50 million
came from Saudi Arabia, $25 million from the U.N. and others from a
number of countries. But the total amount we`ve spent so far is $3.5
billion because we host them, we provide food, we provide education,
we try to provide assistance to these people, and we want the West
to be heard as well.
We should be in close solidarity with the United States in this for
example, but we`re unable to do this. Nothing came out of the Geneva
talks. We are together with a number of countries in NATO. We have
a model (ph) partnership with the U.S. so all those relationships
ought to mean something.
There are lots of people who are internally displaced, millions,
and there are almost 200,000 people who have died. Doing nothing
and just watching is unacceptable. Where is the U.N.? Where is the
U.S.? Where are all these countries?
CHARLIE ROSE: So what concrete steps would you recommend to change
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: There were steps taken in a number of countries.
In Libya, for example, steps were taken. And some steps in different
ways could be taken with respect to Syria. Nobody takes into account
what happened in Libya now, who did what, where it was done and
What`s necessary is to have the necessary firmness the determination
to act. Now why is this determination not there? There are sanctions
imposed in many other areas but nothing much is happening here. When
people die, people leave their country, and there`s no remedy for them,
and this is a humanitarian drama.
Chemical weapons — it`s a delay tactic. I`m not fooled by the chemical
weapons issue. 2,000 people die as a result of a chemical weapons
attack – – that is considered a crime. Then, on the other hand,
you have almost 200,000 people who have been killed by conventional
weapons and that you totally disregard.
If the result of a crime is death, then that crime is a crime. I`m not
saying I defend chemical weapons. Of course, we have to do something
against chemical weapon, but why don`t we act against conventional
weapons? Barrel (ph) bombs, tanks, artillery are used to kill people
and they are considered almost nonexistent. Where do those tanks,
missiles, barrel bombs come from? Why do we not question that?
CHARLIE ROSE: You have a good relationship with Russia. You respect
Vladimir Putin, yes?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Yes, we respect and like each other.
CHARLIE ROSE: So what do you tell him when he invades Crimea? What
do you tell him when he puts all those troops on the border of Ukraine?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: In our conversation about Crimea, I told him
that I did not agree with his actions. He said that they were there
because the people in Crimea wanted to see them there. And my reaction
to that was that there could be other countries in the world who may
look to somebody else to come in, but that cannot be justification
for that action. We should let those people stand on their own feet,
and if there`s something that we can help them in that process with,
then that`s what we should do so that they can stand on their own feet.
And with respect to the Ukraine, there will be elections end of next
month. They have to get necessary support for the elections to go
forward as soon as possible and if it`s elections, elections have
to be held because provocation may be made to prevent the elections
from taking place, and that`s something that we have to ensure
And I think — I believe that it would be important to have a positive
approach, and the people of Ukraine and Russia are friendly, they
should be friendly, and I think that Russia should also recognize
this process in Ukraine, and let us all hope that the end result of
the election will be good for the Ukraine and we all accept it.
CHARLIE ROSE: There`s finally Turkey and the United States. It was
certainly said several years ago that you and President Obama had a
very good relationship and would talk often on the phone. Has that
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: I mentioned to you that we spoke a month and
a half ago. We do not speak as frequently, perhaps, but we still
speak to each other. Our foreign ministers see each other more often,
the Secretary of State and our foreign minister, they see each other
CHARLIE ROSE: Is there more polarization than you hoped when you very
much wanted to be the model for secular democratic and Islam being able
to be all part of the whole? Because I hear stories of Turkey becoming
more polarized and rich versus poor — what`s your sense of that?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: I would not agree with this. But neither would
I say that there is no polarization. As you know, in a society, if
the rich exploit the poor, the poor will not respect the rich. They
would always be the rich in a decent way. But if the rich share their
resources with the poor, then that relationship would move in a more
positive direction in society.
Our society is predominantly Muslim. Those who are more religiously
observant always try to share their possibilities, their means with
the less well to do. The ethnic structure in the country may sometimes
lead to some problems. You may have political Kurds, Kurdism or Kurds
using their identity for political means and then Turkish nationalism
used against that.
CHARLIE ROSE: Mr. Prime Minister, thank you so much.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN: Thank you.